The student-friendly guide to london

As someone whose name proves tricky for those in Ireland, I’m always curious as to how those further afield will manage it. On a recent trip to London, as part of a tour, I was asked my name, for easiness sake, I replied ‘Amy’. I was now, Amy in London, a far cry from Dáirne in Dublin, and while I didn’t quite feel like Amy, I did feel London.

It was my first time in the famous city and I was in total awe: London, the hub, the hive, the place to be. I could finally see why so many of my peers have left these shores and headed for the bright lights and underground train lines, favouring more reliable transport and a bigger pool of socialising and amusements. Four days, and I was well and truly hooked. Dublin who?

The last time I felt this way about a city was during my time inter-railing when I visited Berlin. The city was so steeped in culture that it was hard not to become immersed in it. The same can be said for London.

There is so much to see and do in London, and despite having four days there, a lot remains undone. The bus tour is the best way to see the city, and rest your tired self after a 7am flight. Rounding off at two and a half hours, and many sights to behold it was well worth the money spent and gave us ideas for what to do over the next few days. The novelty of sitting on an open top bus will near wear off.

The London Dungeons were one of the highlights for me, and provided a good scare first thing in the morning. Filled with theatrics, darkness and culminating in a plunge to the death, I can’t recommend this highly enough. There is another one, located over near London Bridge, it’s on my list for next time I’m there. The London Aquarium is another attraction that gives great value for money and also allows you to wander around at leisure. Ripleys Believe It Or Not was another afternoon well spent, and stays open late. More interactive exhibits would have been nice but it gave us some good laughs and interesting facts. For anyone looking for a freebie, the British Museum is a must. You could happily spend a few hours there exploring exhibits such as Ancient Egypt or Europe through the ages. Despite being packed with tourists, navigating your way around is very manageable. Our final attraction was the Tower Bridge, and for the engineers out there, this is for you! The views of London from the top are stunning, despite the fact that you are enclosed.

As someone who enjoys the odd spot of retail therapy, I was rather looking forward to seeing what London had to offer. I worshipped at Primark, the Mecca for any Pennies lovers out there. Shopping in London is on a whole different scale compared to Dublin, and caters very well to both men and women. It’s hard not to compare prices, but when things are cheaper, you do feel more inclined to buy so as to make a saving. Hamley’s Toy Shop is worth a visit and even at the ripe old age of twenty five I would have happily sat playing with the toys while my boyfriend went and tried out the new FIFA game. The store is open late every night apart from Sunday and filled to rafters. The milkshake bar on the top floor proved very delicious indeed. I recommend Reeces Cups,peanut butter goodness.

Eating out in London is such a stress-free experience. There’s something to cater to everyone, from fast-food to fine-dining. Wandering around if your best bet, particularly during the day, many places do similar dishes but prices vary. While we didn’t venture to any clubs, the pubs we went to were lively and had a good atmosphere. In particular, the Punch&Judy located near Covent Garden was great and we sat outside in a big open market style area

The highlight of the four days was seeing the musical, Les Misérables on stage. Since being introduced to it a few months ago after watching the movie, I had fallen in love with it. Despite crying three times  (I blame the fact I was tired) it was fantastic. Tickets are pricey for musicals and shows but worth it if you can afford them.

What I loved about London was the atmosphere and the fact that it’s a city that never sleeps compared to Dublin. Even people I spoke to who had been living there a while still hadn’t seen or done everything. I enjoy having a cooking pot of things to do, places to go, sights to see and for a busy-bee. London is perfect. Despite how big it was, I didn’t find it overwhelming.

Dublin has Dáirne but London has certainly made a good attempt at stealing ‘Amy’.